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Helping people make better connections is a key theme for the Campaign to End Loneliness. Public transport helps to keep people socially connected, either with existing connections or by fostering new connections in stations or on the train, as they go about their journey.
By connecting people and places through our train services, TransPennine Express can support the work of the Campaign to End Loneliness, raise awareness of the issue of loneliness, and signpost our customers and colleagues to find support in making social connections. As the global pandemic has forced people to stay at home, now that restrictions are easing, it is more important than ever for people to get together again to reconnect with friends and family.
We know that a small moment of connection during someone’s day can have a real impact in alleviating feelings of loneliness, so we have designated selected benches across our stations as ‘chatty benches’. We hope to encourage our customers travelling through our stations to say hello, and have a quick chat or conversation with someone who may be sitting on the bench, even if it’s a comment on the weather or an enquiry about their journey, speaking to someone can make a real difference.
Look after yourself – if you can do something to improve your health, take small steps to eat well, take gentle exercise and keep active, all of these things can help you to relax more fully in your own company.
Share your skills and time with others – you can offer time or specific skills by helping out in your street, neighbourhood or with local organisations. Being involved and feeling valuable can help overcome those feelings of loneliness.
Your community and neighbourhood – find out what online and local activities are being planned and book them up: walks, singing groups, book clubs, sport etc. Making new friendships and spending time with others does help. The Royal Voluntary Service has a directory of lunch clubs and social events in your area.
Meditation, or practising something known as ‘mindfulness’ (a technique that helps people to change the way they think and feel about their experiences – especially stressful experiences – and is recommended as a treatment for some people with mental health problems including stress, anxiety, and depression) can help. You can learn more about this on the Mental Health Foundation website
Speak to a health worker if you feel very lonely – long term loneliness could contribute to later depression and other health problems. Your GP should be able to direct you to local services.
More information on what you can do to combat loneliness.How you can help?
If you want to get involved with supporting those who are experiencing loneliness you could try a befriending service which matches up people to spend time together either in person or on the phone. The National Befriending Network and Lets BFriend provide information on where and how you can do this.
The Campaign to End Loneliness is a non-profit community interest company which is hosted by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing. It shares research, evidence and knowledge with thousands of other organisations and the public to make a difference to older people's lives. One of the main aims of the Campaign is to inspire everyone to connect and bring communities together across the UK.
We've been experts in the field of loneliness and connection since 2011.
What are the ways to end loneliness?
If you have been feeling lonely for a while, the first step is to notice and identify this, even just to yourself. Everyone will have a different experience of loneliness and different reasons for why they are feeling this way.
There is no one way to effectively deal with loneliness but there are lots of different things that can, and do, help. Some people find that reaching out to connect with others is the best way to deal with their loneliness while others will feel that they prefer to deal with their loneliness alone.
Connection with others
Catching up with old friends can help as can investing time in new connections, perhaps joining a group based on your interests. Volunteering is another excellent way to get involved. You can draw on skills or interests you have developed over your lifetime. Not only will you feel useful, you will also meet new people. While fostering and encouraging deep connections with friends is important, brief exchange with others can also have an impact on how you feel about yourself. Say hello to a neighbour, the shop keeper or person at the bus stop.
Consider support and services
It’s tempting to think that loneliness is something you should keep to yourself, but opening up about how you feel might really help as you may find that other people have had similar experiences. Talking to someone about your feelings of loneliness and learning positive coping techniques can be a helpful way to deal with the negative emotions associated with loneliness. Access to talking therapies can be obtained from your GP, community supports and organisations or privately. Some people may benefit from a more formal social arrangement such as befriending, where you are matched with a befriender who can either contact you via phone or in person. Charities such as Age UK, Independent Age and Sense offer these services. The Befriending Network has a directory of services in the UK. This can be a good option if you find leaving your home difficult.
As a provider of public transport, TransPennine Express know that we can connect people to family and friends and help people get out and about which can help alleviate feelings of loneliness. We are partnering with the Campaign to End Loneliness to help raise awareness of the issue and support the work of the Campaign to End Loneliness.